College of Business

Creating mutually beneficial relationships as a leader

By Cody Gray | March 27, 2024

Successful relationships are at the center of every successful company.

First Things First

Successful leaders become more valuable by adding value to those around them.

Adopting a win-win mentality is essential to building a relationship. To be effective as a leader, you must not see any of your subordinates’ successes as a threat but rather as value to the team.

In fact, the more value you pour into those around you, the more success you will see. The best indicator of success for leaders is the success experienced by those around them. Providing value to lower-level employees will provide value for all.

Get Your Mind Right

As you start to add value to others, it should not simply be to elevate yourself. Your mindset has to be we before me. A relationship consists of two or more individuals. Therefore, your success needs to be credited accordingly.

Recognize the collective group when any sort of success is experienced. It takes one individual to cause failure, but it takes the entire group to be successful.

The Front-Line Reality

There may be many different levels to the structure you have been entrusted to lead. Thus, your relationships must extend beyond the management directly below you.

Every leader would love for the value poured into management to trickle down to the front-line workers. This is not always the case.

A successful leader must embrace the front-line workers and find ways to add value to them as well. Directly add value to these workers when the opportunity is presented. The overall success of the company rides on the effort of front-line workers. Therefore, treat them appropriately.


Relationships thrive when each individual feels heard. When anyone walks through your office door, focus on listening to understand. As a leader, you will have plenty of opportunities to respond. But first, listen.

Encourage individuals at every level to meet with you and be especially attentive to smaller concerns. Often, these small issues will have immediate solutions that prevent larger problems. More importantly, minor adjustments show workers they are being heard. Hearing employees at all levels will lead to greater employee respect.


Make sure everyone has a voice in the operation. This will deepen the roots of that individual’s relationship with you and contribute to the success of the company.

Those at the management level will have great ideas. Do not forget about the front-line workers. Those on the front-line will provide a different perspective given their experience.

Meeting as a large staff to collaborate can be overwhelming for some. To overcome the obstacle of some individuals being silent out of fear of rejection, reach out to everyone individually.

Avoid Complacency

Always remember that these relationships are like plants. They need to be attended to regularly.

A leader doesn’t necessarily need to check-in on each person daily. Once a week may be sufficient. They must give their workers the space to do good work, yet still be visible to show each worker they are important.

Touch points do not always have to be work related. Relationships will be stronger between a leader and those around them if the leader understands the person better than the worker.

Stay on Track

It can be overwhelming for a leader to look out for everyone who depends on them. This is inevitable in leadership. There are others who depend on you, just as you depend on them. As a leader, the key to staying on track is continuously finding ways to add value to everyone around you.

Make each of your relationships a priority. Search for opportunities to put other individuals in positions to succeed. The best way for an individual to experience success is for the group to succeed collectively.

Cody Gray is a graduate assistant for the football program at Charleston Southern University. He has worked in college athletics for three years and is currently working toward attaining a Master of Arts in organizational leadership.

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